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Instant analysis: Nats 5, Angels 4

Apr 23, 2014, 10:27 PM EDT

AP AP

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Trying to avoid an interleague series sweep, the Nationals needed a good start from Gio Gonzalez. They got one, but that still wasn’t good enough. Until some high drama in the bottom of the ninth.

Cruising for five innings, Gonzalez quickly got into trouble in the sixth when he walked Mike Trout and gave up an RBI double to Albert Pujols. The game tied 1-1 at that point and Gonzalez sitting on only 83 pitches, he surprisingly was pulled by manager Matt Williams in favor of rookie Aaron Barrett. Barrett wound up allowing the inherited runner to score, so Gonzalez suddenly was on the hook for the loss.

It might have been a moot point had the Nationals been able to produce more at the plate. But they managed only one run against veteran Jered Weaver, getting a bunt single, a stolen base and an RBI single (from Gonzalez, of all people) in the bottom of the second. They attempted three bunts (including one by Bryce Harper in a highly unusual situation) but couldn’t manufacture anything more than that one early run until the bottom of the ninth.

That’s when the Nationals somehow managed to flip the switch. Jose Lobaton homered off Angles closer Ernesto Frieri, who then put two more men on. Jayson Werth delivered the game-tying double, then scored the game-winner on Adam LaRoche’s walk-off single to left-center off Fernando Salas.

Just like that, the Nationals had another come-from-behind win, their most-dramatic to date.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Stymied most of the night, the Nationals suddenly sprung to life just in the nick of time in the bottom of the ninth. Lobaton got things started by drilling his first homer of the season. A single by Denard Span and a walk by Anthony Rendon brought Werth to the plate representing the winning run. Frieri fell behind in the count 3-0, and given Werth’s propensity for attacking that pitch, you had to think something big was about to happen. It did. Werth roped a double down the left-field line, bringing both runners home, tying the game and setting the stage for LaRoche. The veteran first baseman immediately pounced on Salas, delivering the game-winner to send the crowd into a frenzy.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: After escaping a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first, Gonzalez absolutely cruised. He retired 11 in a row at one point, exhibiting command of all his pitches and striking out five. And then … well, what exactly happened in the top of the sixth? Gonzalez walked Mike Trout to lead off the inning (certainly not something you ever want to do, but hardly a disaster against arguably the best player in the game right now). He then served up Albert Pujols’ RBI double down the third-base line. And then? Here came Williams asking for the ball from his starter after only 83 pitches. Did Williams see something he didn’t like? Did Gonzalez note some kind of discomfort that alarmed the coaching staff? Whatever the case, he didn’t look too pleased leaving the game.

KEY STAT: Mike Trout went 5-for-14 with three runs scored in the series. Bryce Harper went 1-for-11 with a walk.

UP NEXT: This season-long homestand wraps up with a four-game series against the Padres. Jordan Zimmermann faces left-hander Eric Stults in Thursday’s opener at 7:05 p.m.

  1. David Proctor - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:28 PM

    Look, this team clearly has issues. We’ve all seen it. But it’s not like the 2013 team. The 2013 team does not come back tonight and they don’t come back a number of other times we have this year.

    They gotta get some things straightened out, but for tonight, enjoy the win.

    • veejh - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:31 PM

      Theyll work it out. Too many cold bats at the same time. Hopefully that win created a spark.

      • stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:34 PM

        Padres and Astros could be helpful, too.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:35 PM

      +1

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:35 PM

      I agree but I’m very disappointed in how Bryce waited for that single to meet him instead of charging it. He allowed a 41 year old to score on his arm. His bunt with 2 strikes was the most bizarre thing I’ve seen and if he bunted it for a hit there would be some calling him genius like that early in the season 1st to 3rd on a groundout. Just because you makes something work doesn’t make it smart. What in the world has happened to Bryce.

      LaRoche had that ridiculous “transfer” error and picked himself up.

      This should be that win like July 21 2012 (game 2) that propels this team. I hope to look back on this day and proclaim that officially.

      • Hiram Hover - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:39 PM

        I hope the post game interviews will get some explanation of that bunt attempt.

        But the thought process was almost certainly: “They’d never expect me to try to bunt here. So I will!”

      • natsjackinfl - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:18 PM

        Amen, Ghost. I think we are seeing a kid that is discovering the game he thought he could dominate moves at a pace at this level he clearly hasn’t adjusted to, yet.

      • cayucosbaseballconservancy - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:31 PM

        As you perhaps unintentionally convey … there are still problems that make this more of a .500 team than a contender. However, good, bad, or ugly? Most experts use one word: April. Its still April last I looked at the calendar. May is still more than a week away.

        Still …

        Span is not a lead-off hitter. Wasn’t last year. Wasn’t with the Twins still not sure why Rizzo keeps trying to force a #7/#8 square peg hitter into a round hole. Finally toward the end of games he tries working a walk? He needs to do that starting with the first at bat. This isn’t the DH laden AL Twins this is the Nats. He hasn’t gotten there yet from what i can see?

        But, If you beef up the top of the lineup you end up with what often ends up bing a pathetic heart of the lineup. Harper isn’t anywhere close to what he was last season before or after the injury. Except for tonight Werth is starting very slow. LaRoche is hitting but he can’t carry an offense the way Harper, Rendon, Zimmerman, and perhaps Ramos could. And Mikey Mo is healthy and hit 2 dingers for the Giants playing left field. I’m still not sure LaRoche is a better choice for first base. So, there’s that.

        The top three starting pitchers look just fine. Roark is working himself in shape and his Texas Rangers buddy appears to be emulating him up in Syracuse. Matttheus looks good in Syracuse I’m surprised he’s still there and they didn’t just pull up Barrett. They’ve lost some major league depth starters to injury down in the minors. Ohlendorg is already on the 60-day. Detwiler with 3 walks doesn’t look like he is happy pitching out of the bullpen even though they gave him a setup job in a reasonably close game. Taylor Jordan has lost velocity and probably belongs in Syracuse to work on his pitches especially given Danny Rosenbaum may be another TJ pitcher soon. Trienen might be more than enough but they’ve got to stretch him out and get him through a few AAA starts. Fister is still working his way into shape and Clippard may need more rest than he has been getting during the season.

        They have the most errors in the majors yet were built to survive and win close games/ pitching duels by having great defense. Won’t happen until the defense comes around.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:38 PM

        Peric, I think we’ve been in agreement even last year that Span doesn’t possess the OBP or baserunning abilities to be a classic leadoff.

        The problem continues that the only other choice is Rendon right now. McLouth is batting worse than most of the pitchers so he can’t leadoff.

      • cayucosbaseballconservancy - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:34 PM

        And I’m starting to wonder if a trip to AA might be in store for Bryce is this continues?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:41 PM

        No way but he sure needs Rizzo’s foot up his a**.

      • scmargenau - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:08 AM

        The most disturbing Bryce moment was him yet again loafing to first on an apparent out and sprinting once he saw it missed. Almost cost him the base. His head is messed up.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:13 AM

        There was such a difference in Bryce throughout the game. When Trout was scoring from 1st on the Pujols double, Bryce was in full sprint.

        I want full hustle and effort all the time. He promised he was an old school Pete Rose not Randy Moss when he said this in 2001 “I play when I want to play. Do I play up to my top performance, my ability every time? Maybe not”

  2. scnatsfan - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:29 PM

    God please let this be the game that sets this team on fire

  3. veejh - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:29 PM

    Huge win. Now we don’t have to blow up the team. Phew.

  4. NatsLady - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    Who gave up on our Nats? Did YOU give up on our Nats???? DON’T give up on our Nats!!!

    • stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:34 PM

      Not me! And mock was made!

    • adcwonk - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:58 PM

      Who? The predictable LoD from the last thread . . . .

      • natsjackinfl - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:21 PM

        Hey. At least that “wasnianman” guy is done till I next year so we got that going for us.

      • adcwonk - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:37 PM

        I must have missed that

  5. NatsLady - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    Harper looks happy for the first time in a week. He sure does love Jayson. BTW, so do I.

    • stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:33 PM

      +1

  6. stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    I guess this is as excited as Matt gets, huh?

    • stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:37 PM

      If you missed the end of the game and turned on the presses, would you know we won?

      • stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:39 PM

        “presser”

        Thanks, spell check.

      • David Proctor - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:42 PM

        At least this manager doesn’t sound like he could die at any moment. Davey was always chipper during his morning radio appearances, but the postgames were rough.

  7. Hiram Hover - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    Fun sort-of-fact – the Nats win expectancy in the middle of the 9th inning was 3.5%.

  8. Eugene in Oregon - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:37 PM

    Wait, did something happen? According to the comments in the game thread the Nats are now in 4th place, the team roster should be blown up, Mike Rizzo fired, and a rebuilding effort begun. Did I miss something? I’m confused. Should I not believe what I read in the game thread?

    • Joe Seamhead - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:39 PM

      I plead innocent of all charges, your honor.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:40 PM

      2 days and 8 1/2 innings of Doom and Gloom from the same groupings.

      • stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:41 PM

        At least some had the decency to skulk away.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:47 PM

        Yep. This team isn’t a bunch of quitters. You can see my post at 10:15 after Lobaton’s HR I sensed the comeback.

      • NatsNut - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:57 PM

        Ghost, you forgot to link to the thread where you said that. ;)

    • adcwonk - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:04 PM

      Yeah, I gotta say it ticks me off when stuff is written in the past tense when the game isn’t even in the 7th inning yet

  9. Joe Seamhead - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    Bizarre win. We’ll take it, but bizarre.

  10. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    MW, “I’ve seen players bunt with 2 strikes”. Yes, and their names are Stras, JZim, Gio, Roark, Jordan.

    • stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:40 PM

      He doesn’t even try to sound credible. He’s like the “four corners defense” of press conferences. Run out the clock.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:43 PM

        I’m ok with political correctness but come up with better answers. He could have said “Bryce saw the 3rd baseman move way back and though he had him”. Give us something credible.

        If you have read me long enough, you know I loved 2006 with RZim bunting for something like 8 hits. I love bunting for hits. Its an agitating back breaker but not with 2 strikes.

      • Hiram Hover - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:47 PM

        +1 to Ghost.

        The secret of good BS is that it doesn’t sound like BS. Matty is still learning….

      • NatsLady - Apr 24, 2014 at 6:47 AM

        Hey wati, I thought we wanted the truth at all costs?

    • David Proctor - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:41 PM

      He’s already called Bryce out in the media once, no need to do it again. I suspect somebody will have a private talk with Bryce.

      • stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:43 PM

        Might have been a better strategy the first time, too.
        But I’m willing not to beat on that dead horse anymore.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:44 PM

        Exactly David and very glad he lied for Bryce but just make the excuse more credible ;)

      • adcwonk - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:08 PM

        - Bunting with two strikes (after two previously good solid at bats) – dumb
        – Not running hard out of the box on that grounder – letting frustration and/or selfishness get in the way
        – Not charging that single to left – now that was (apparently) inexcusable (unless there’s a good excuse), because you know the runner might try to score.

      • David Proctor - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:13 PM

        I honestly didn’t notice the single to left that everyone is talking about. I’ll have to watch a replay. If he really lollygagged getting to it, that’s a problem.

      • adcwonk - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:21 PM

        I only saw it once — so check it out and see what you think. It’s possible I’m being overly harsh in my memory here

      • stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:19 PM

        Let’s just say there was no sense of urgency. Might not have made a difference, but it sure wasn’t the Harper we’ve seen for two years.

    • NatsNut - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:00 AM

      What about that guy who was facing Henry Rodriguez that time and bunted on two strikes? It was a good hitter too, if I recall. Just a full-on defensive move in the face of H-Rod’s 100 MPH heater. We all laughed because that was a night Henry was ON. Braves I think.

  11. David Proctor - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:40 PM

    Gio was taken out because he had shoulder tightness. MW says not serious, mostly because it was cold, just precautionary. Let’s hope that’s the case.

    • Hiram Hover - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:42 PM

      Yeah, but when it comes in the same interview as “I’ve seen players bunt with two strikes,” I really don’t give it any credence.

      Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s just CYA. Who knows?

      Thankfully, the Nats still won.

      • stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:45 PM

        “He was safe at first, that’s all I care about.”
        So, all that “contract between all of us” stuff was bogus? That’s what I thought the first time.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:48 PM

        I’m glad he pulled him. He lost it quickly.

    • Hiram Hover - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:54 PM

      Locker room interview. “I feel fine now.”

      There you have it.

  12. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:43 PM

    So I couldn’t comment anymore after a while… Did the comments section get locked down or something…

    Nice win… Hope Gio isn’t too hurt…

    • stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:46 PM

      The sort order got kind of higgledy piggledy near the end, but never had any problem posting.

  13. ehay2k - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    So good to see ALR hit opposite field. That will be big for him and the Nats this year. Would love for Mark Z to find out if this is something he worked on over the summer. If not, why the success this year?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:53 PM

      If you remember Chipper last year was the one who got ALR going oppo. He was pulling outside pitches which was killing him.

  14. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:46 PM

    Lets thanks Frese for his contiebutions… Also Angels skipper for leaving their closer in….

    • ehay2k - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:51 PM

      We still have to hit the (wild) pitches. Credit to the 4 of 6 batters in the 9th who came home.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:55 PM

      Thank you for reminding me. Frese is a liability and Matheny dozens of times in close games pulled Frese last year for a defensive replacement. Frese I think was in no doubles defense and still couldn’t knock that down. That’s when you know the Baseball Gods decided to help the Nats out.

      Like I said, April 23 2014 could be the date the season changed.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:09 PM

        As soon as Frese tried to steal 3rd… I said thank ya kindly and knew we would come back…

        But I never lost faith tonight… Knew they would win…

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:16 PM

        There you go Mrsb!

  15. nats128 - Apr 23, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    I just picked myself off the floor.

  16. Natsfool - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:01 PM

    I’m not skulking, and yes the team should be blown up. Angels have a notoriously bad bp. Give the Nats a chance to enjoy this, but the problems have not been solved.

    • adcwonk - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:12 PM

      … because 22 games into a season, you know everything you need to know about a team (that has two solid hitters each out for a month, and missing one of their starters…)

    • nats128 - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:14 PM

      Blow up this team that’s missing 3 star players? This isn’t the Diamondbacks.

      The only problems I see are defensive mistakes, mental errors, Bryce’s brain, and Matty’s use of the bullpen. McLouth is the only player struggling on offense and Clip is struggling in the pen but I have faith in both.

      I think the Nats now have 9 comeback wins.

      That error by Pujols, Bryce didn’t run that out. He didn’t charge the hit in the 9th to let Ibanez score and he bunted with 2 strikes. That’s 3 problems IMO. If the Nats lose by 1 run, there’s a problem there.

      LaRoche had that transfer error and got the Walkoff hit and Lobaton couldn’t make contact with a man on 3rd and 1 out and K’d and then hits the leadoff HR in the 9th. That’s a great example of this 2014 team of guys picking themselves up.

  17. stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    If you’ve ever had a 19-21 year old around the house, sometimes all it takes is something nice to happen and the funk dissipates almost instantly. Let’s hope.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:19 PM

      Funk could explain it. I think Bryce also misses his parents who are staying out west since Bryce’s sister is due to give birth in the next few weeks. Wouldn’t be surprised if Ron feels the need to fly East and give some fatherly advice. Bryce is better than this. Even if you’re slumping there’s no excuse for lack of hustle.

      • stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:21 PM

        Even at his worst moments he never embarrassed himself, and that’s where he’s at now. Which isn’t acceptable for anyone.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:30 PM

        Matty has his work cut out for him. 3 blunders tonight just by Bryce. It’s his lack of energy that is hard to miss. I love the kid.

  18. David Proctor - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    Chase Hughes ‏@chasehughesCSN 12s
    Werth said he asked Desmond what he had on Frieri, as he hit a HR on Mon.: ‘Desi was running his mouth a little bit, so that got us going.’

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:20 PM

      That’s great stuff!

    • NatsNut - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:06 AM

      Love it!

    • NatsLady - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:08 AM

      Jeez, if that’s all it takes, Desi should run his mouth more often.

  19. stoatva - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:17 PM

    I will just note, on the way out the door: I did not want to see this team drop back to .500

    This is a huge opportunity for these guys.

  20. Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    Not sure if this was mentioned (and I will probably be flamed) but I’m not sure I am liking the way that MW is managing/using the bullpen…

    Thought the quick hook was correct for Gio.. But didnt like Barrett coming back out (don’t think he is built for that yet) and since he went yesterday… Thought Det came in a few batters too late….

    Yes, it’s a learning curve for him but this is why Barrett had to go down before- mismanagement of the BP…

    Speaking of Det, today showed why he is in the BP and I don’t think MW will move him to the starting rotation..

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:42 PM

      Yes, Det is staying in the pen. He also needs more regular work.

    • David Proctor - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:54 PM

      I’m more impressed by the 4th pitch. He knew it was borderline, a good pitch and that couldn’t leave the bat on his shoulder. So he fouled off a touch pitch and kept the bat alive. Rendon knows how to put an AB together man.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:59 PM

        Great point. Something Lobaton and Walters weren’t able to do in their K’s earlier in the game. Almost the exact location that K’d Walters.

    • Section 222 - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:08 AM

      That is really cool Ghost. Thanks for the link.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:14 AM

        Any time 2’s. Note as David said how great the way Rendon wasted pitch #4. I forgot to mention that. That was so pro.

  21. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:05 AM

    Just saw the Cardinals lost to the Mets on a bad send with 1 out that would have left men on 3rd and 2nd with Holliday coming to bat. Game ended on a long flyout by Holliday.

  22. Section 222 - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:07 AM

    Couldn’t watch the game tonight, but heard the comeback on the radio while driving home. Just got done watching some key moments (thank goodness for DVRs). Wow. A sweet surprise comeback. Way to go guys!

    Bryce was totally loafing on that misplayed grounder to Pujols. He’s lucky the throw got a way from the pitcher or he would have been out. Wonder what MW would have said in the postgame presser if that had happened. You have to think that that play more than the benching might remind Bryce why you run hard on every ground ball. Ian Desmond did it right after Bryce’s out. That’s how you play the game.

    On the other hand, I’ve now watched the RBI single that scored Ibanez several times and I have to say to Ghost and Nats128 (and anyone else piling on) that you guys are way too tough on Bryce for that one. The ball was not hit at him, it was hit sharply and well to his right. He was running pretty much full speed to cut it off. It slowed up at the end, but he couldn’t charge the ball without taking a big risk that it would get by him.

    • adcwonk - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:15 AM

      I’m willing to concede that point — I only saw it as it happened and the quick replay. It _seemed_ liked he wasn’t trying to hurry too much, but I didn’t get the big picture. If what you say is right, then I withdraw my last objection!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:32 AM

      2’s, it wasn’t his worst moment but I watched it several times and noted above how he tracked Pujols double in full sprint to almost get Trout at home. He made a great throw on Ibanez but I believe he didn’t track it as aggressively but you are absolutely right that sometimes you can misplay that ball if you run too hard at it. He moved horizontaly instead of to a point on a diagonal. I have it taped at the 2:59 mark of the broadcast.

      Maybe he thought Ibanez wouldn’t run on it. Not sure.

      • Section 222 - Apr 24, 2014 at 7:48 AM

        You’re right that he moved horizontally. He may have misjudged the speed of the ball, but he did hustle on the play. That’s my only point.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 24, 2014 at 8:24 AM

        2’s, I agree with you as he did hustle and I never questioned hustle, just the route to the ball. Your theory on the speed of the ball could have changed the way he decided to go after the ball. Here’s what I wrote:

        “I’m very disappointed in how Bryce waited for that single to meet him instead of charging it.”

        I’ve seen Bryce aggressively charging balls and we can all agree that wasn’t an aggressive route on the ball. One theory is certainly he took the “safe” horizontal route instead of charging the ball. He probably also knew his baserunner was Ibanez and could have assumed the 41 year old would not try to score on that.

      • Section 222 - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:25 AM

        Your comment implied a lack of hustle, and others said it explicitly, lumping that play with his jog to first before Pujols booted his grounder and other recent lackluster behavior. I don’t think it’s fair to say he waited for the grounder. He was moving very quickly. He may not have taken the perfect route, but it was a reasonable route under the circumstances. And he came up firing and made a pretty good throw, so I very much doubt he assumed Ibanez wouldn’t try to score.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        My post shouldn’t have implied anything to do with hustle as hustle was never in question in my mind. It had to do with aggressively making a diagonal move to the ball that’s all and as you noted there was certainly extra risk there. I’ve seen him do that before when he’s thinking play at the plate.

      • Section 222 - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        Fair enough. Don’t think you should be very disappointed though. He may have just misjudged the speed of the hit. I can’t fault him for that.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        Weidemaier also had him closer to the gap and deep and while the re-positioning is working in the infield, the corner outfielders seem to be 10 feet out of position too often.

    • zmunchkin - Apr 24, 2014 at 8:45 AM

      Bryce’s behavior on that ground balls was no different than what every other player on both teams did all game long. And in fact probably for their entire careers.

      And yes, I understand everyone expect more from Bryce (as do I). But this focus on him not hustling is not helpful. Especially when so many mixed messages are sent. Hustle all the time; but don’t risk hurting yourself when it won’t make a difference. You can’t have it both ways.

      And has anyone looked at his numbers in the last 10 games? Before the game where MW pulled that rookie manager mistake, Bryce was 7 for 18. Since then 2 for 15. Yes, a small sample. But something that also can’t be ignored.

      He is still a kid and needs to learn to not let that stuff bother him. And how to be a big league player and how to deal with the double standard. Most of the stuff that Bryce gets criticized for, other players do every single day without any notice.

      And remember that MW said he pulled Bryce for not running it out to first (vs. running hard). And if you look at the video of that play, Bryce is veering off the dugout at virtually the exact moment the umpire is making the out sign.

      • adcwonk - Apr 24, 2014 at 8:52 AM

        And has anyone looked at his numbers in the last 10 games? Before the game where MW pulled that rookie manager mistake, Bryce was 7 for 18. Since then 2 for 15

        But those numbers seem close to (I think) the entire team’s numbers. A week or so ago, the Nats were near the top of the NL in batting. Now they are slightly below the league average. A bunch of guys “regressed to the mean” at the same time.

        Most of the stuff that Bryce gets criticized for, other players do every single day without any notice.

        I think most sluggers, who already hit the ball hard twice against the pitcher, would get criticized for attempting a bunt with two strikes.

      • zmunchkin - Apr 24, 2014 at 9:01 AM

        I agree on the bunt. And that is why I said most. I did not say or imply all.

        And on the teams numbers, good point. So I guess MW’s attempt to fire up the team by pulling Bryce, might have had a negative impact on everyone.

      • Section 222 - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:36 AM

        This is a very good point. Zim has been jogging to first on ground balls that he’s pretty sure are outs for years. So has Werth, so does ALR. And of course Cano’s lack of hustle is legendary. I wish that weren’t the case. Running hard for 90 feet once every 45 minutes or so is something a professional baseball player ought to do. When he first came up, Bryce was changing that mindset and it appeared to be contagious. Desi, for one, runs hard on every ground ball.

        I thought MW’s response in the presser was lame. If all you want is for players to run through the bag at 75% effort in case there’s a transfer rule event, you’re not expecting much of your players. If you’re a pitcher or you’re hurt, fine, I can see an exception being made. But everyone else should put their head down and sprint for 90 feet. Not risk injury, but run hard. You never know what might happen, as Pujols’ error shows.

  23. secretwasianman - Apr 24, 2014 at 3:57 AM

    Wow great job guys. A nice surprise to wake up and see the win. Maybe I’ll go to sleep in the ninth every night

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Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Diamondbacks at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
FRI: Giants at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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